After a 50min delay at Melbourne airport, we were able to take off quickly with everyone on board and seated. Feeling the roar of the engines that push you back in your seat is a thrilling feeling, knowing that your journey has finally commenced.
Despite media reports I’d read about Qantas trying to be stingey with food, I experienced quite the opposite. It felt like they were constantly bringing meals or snacks including ice-cream, tim-tams, nuts and a warm mini panini on top of a main meal. I now have some great “Australian” items to include with my gift for my volunteering host family.
It was an uneventful flight other than, at 4:30pm, I looked up from watching a movie, to receive quite a shock when I looked out the window and it was night time! It didn’t matter how many times I looked at my watch and tried to think that Singapore was 2hrs behind, making it 2:30pm or looked at the other side of the plane, it was still night outside.
The lovely gentleman beside me must have seen my perplexed look and thankfully explained the weird phenomenon. It turns out it is a new technology on planes where they have removed the pull down shades and replaced the windows which allows them to be electronically tinted to make it look like night time outside in case people on the plane want to sleep.
While I thought this was amazing at the time, it was less amazing when we had to circle Singapore for 20mins and every half turn, we would be blinded by the sun reflecting off the wing.
After a week of limited sleep, flight delays and navigating customs and bag collection at Singapore, the humidity hit like a train and after a short walk to nearby Chinatown, I was done.
My tiredness level was so extreme, I couldn’t decide on whether I wanted a shower or simply going to bed. One look at my two perfectly wrapped bag cocoons and bed won over. I couldn’t remember what was in either bag, so the idea of having to unwrap both was not appealing, especially when I would be on the next leg of the journey less than 24hrs earlier. Will need to remember this for trip coming home.
Fortunately, in the morning, the bag I was able to partly open gave me enough to change into. The only issue was my charging cables and toiletries bag was in the other one. You can imagine my delight when I discovered alternative options with a small toothbrush set in the bathroom, a going away present in my carry on of Aesop hand cream to use for a face moisturiser and spare charging cable in my power bank bag that meant I didn’t need to open the other bag.
I did discover that I needed some duct tape and scissors and wondered how to ask for directions to this that didn’t make me sound like a serial killer. Luckily, a quick google search found me the local version of a shopping mall.
But first, I needed breakfast and figured, I may as well start now with the Asian style breakfast. Apart from the dumpling at the bottom and the fried egg at the top right, I honestly couldn’t tell you what everything else was, but happily finished everything except the white ball thing. That tasted like I was eating mashed up paper with clag glue from school.
I found my shopping mall and was the only westerner as far as I could see, but I got my supplies for next to nothing. I didn’t have enough time to go exploring and with everything going on before I left, I ran out of time for a bit of lip and eyebrow grooming, so figured this would be the perfect place, provided I didn’t walk out with pencil thin eyebrows as that would not be ideal at the start of a holiday.
As I lay down, the lady said she would do face threading. I agreed, inwardly thinking there isn’t going to be anything on my face, but sure, go ahead….
It turns out apparently, my face looks like this!
I swear I was lying there for 30mins as she went over my whole face. Why didn’t anyone tell me I had so much facial hair??!!
With a face as smooth as a baby’s bottom, I decided to head to the airport early and take in some of the experiences of Changi Airport Singapore. For anyone who doesn’t know, Singapore is an architectural marvel and they have brought this to the airport as well.
The dome has five levels, with an incredible garden at the top level, that looks down on the centrepiece waterfall. That picture provided its own heart stopping moment when I pulled my phone out to take a picture and felt it bounce out of my hand twice before I managed to catch it.
Of course, this masterpiece was the furthest place it could be from my terminal, so it was a long walk, then skytrain, then long walk again, so managed to get to the gate just before we should have been boarding….except the plane was delayed again.
An hour after we were due to board, we finally did, with masks being worn during the flight a requirement of entry to Nepal. I actually wore my mask on the plane to Singapore as my body tends to have a tradition of acquiring terrible chest infections every time I do a lengthy trip, so I’m hoping the mask wearing keeps this away.
The five hour flight felt double and I was exhausted, so I think I managed to doze, before we heard the much welcome announcement of preparing to land. It was such a relief to feel the wheels touch the ground.
That is when the chaos began. After first walking down wooden planks over the top of a marble floor with huge chunks missing (OHS is not a thing in Nepal), we had to line up to show our vaccinations certificates, then be herded to another area to pay for our travel Visa (thankfully I had completed the pre-arrival online because those who hadn’t and had been lining up, were sent away to complete and to line up again at the back of the queue), then lined up for immigration before collecting our bags.
You would think that all this would result in our bags being already out on the baggage carousel wouldn’t you because I can tell you that process took ages with a lot of shouting reminiscent of India.
The bags were nowhere in sight and when they finally started to come out, I’m convinced there was only one trolley and it was going back and forth to the plane 1km away! They came out incredibly slowly, so I was excited to finally see one of my bags after another 15mins. That excitement turned to concern when after 10mins, my second bag was still nowhere to be seen, especially when they had been checked together.
After what felt like an eternity, my other bag rolled out and I was able to exit, looking for someone holding my name….except there was no one in sight. After a lot of walking back and forth, a lovely man asked if he could help and called my volunteer contact. It turned out I needed to walk outside and across the road were what felt like a 100 nepalis holding up cards and shouting.
I found my name quickly enough and couldn’t catch the name of my driver in all the yelling. The next challenge was getting out of the airport. Cars jostled for position to get out of one gate, sticking their bonnets to the bumper of the car in front and still cars managed to cut in out of sheer ballsiness. I’ve seen a lot of chaotic driving in my travels, but this was next level.
This was especially true navigating the streets of Thamel on our way to the hotel. We drove down narrow laneways that are barely wider than a small car, with motorbikes weaving in between and pedestrians having to walk in the same space. I’d read about it, but seeing pedestrians dodging cars and motorbikes in person gave it a whole new meaning, especially knowing that “it was quiet” at night. During the day would be even worse. Somehow, I would also be having to navigate these streets, but for now, that’s tomorrow’s problem. I just wanted to get to the hotel and climb into bed.
Nothing kept me from falling asleep, not the hard bed, the music from a nearby bar or the heat. This feels like a 20 year journey to get to this point, filled with so much in that time, but I am finally here. My Nepalese adventure begins.
Much love x